Stanford University The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute
Speaker Biographies
June 17, 2010
Dorothy Cotton

Dorothy Cotton was the Education Director Southern Christian Leadership Conference for twelve years working closely with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; Dorothy served on his executive staff and was part of his entourage to Oslo, Norway, where he received the Nobel Peace Prize. She served as the Vice President for Field Operations for the Dr. M.L.K. Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta.

Vincent Harding

Vincent Harding was deeply involved with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as a friend and colleague for a decade. He also served as an elder brother and advisor to many of the members of SNCC (The Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee). His social activism has deep spiritual roots in the Mennonite tradition and the Black church. Dr. Harding has been one of the chroniclers of the civil rights movement as a participant, an historian, and social observer. He and his late wife Rosemarie were senior consultants to the "Eyes of the Prize" documentary film project. Harding is currently Professor Emeritus of Religion and Social Change at the Iliff School of Theology and Chairperson of The Veterans of Hope Project in Denver, Colorado. New editions of two of his books – Martin Luther King: The Inconvenient Hero and Hope and History – both relate to the topic of the conference.

Clarence B. Jones

Clarence B. Jones has been a Scholar in Residence at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research & Education Institute since August 2006, the Institute has hosted Clarence B. Jones as its first Scholar/Writer in Residence. A pioneer of the civil rights movement, Mr. Jones was part of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s innermost circle of advisors. Through his involvement as an attorney, advisor, fundraiser, speech writer, and personal friend to King and other movement leaders, Mr. Jones contributed in significant ways to a variety of civil rights campaigns. See the encyclopedia entry on Mr. Jones here.

Mary Elizabeth King

Mary Elizabeth King is professor of peace and conflict studies at the UN-affiliated University for Peace and holds the position of distinguished scholar at the American University Center for Global Peace, in Washington, D.C.. In 1988, she won a Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Book Award for Freedom Song: A Personal Story of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement (New York: William Morrow, 1987), in which she tells of her life-defining experiences working for four years with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Her involvement with SNCC led her to work alongside the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (no relation) and other prominent figures in the movement. In 2002, New Delhi’s Indian Council for Cultural Relations and Mehta Publishers released the second edition of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. ( originally published by UNESCO in 1999), in which King discusses nine contemporary nonviolent struggles.

Eric Mann

Eric Mann, Director of the Strategy Center, a 45-year veteran in anti-war, labor, and environmental organizing (working extensively with Congress of Racial Equality, Students for a Democratic Society, and the United Auto Workers), graduate of Cornell University, author of six books and two films on social movements and organizing theory, including his most recent book, Katrina’s Legacy: White Racism and Black Reconstruction in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. Eric was lead organizer of the 10 year campaign to Keep GM Van Nuys [auto plant] Open and worked on auto assembly lines for 8 years. In 2001 he was a delegate to the U.N. World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa where he participated in the protests against the U.S. government’s walk out. He returned to South Africa in 2002 as part of a Strategy Center delegation to the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. He co-hosts “Voices from the Frontlines” radio show on KPFK/Pacifica.  He is presently working on his next book, Playbook for Progressives: The 21 Qualities of the Successful Organizer, forthcoming from Beacon Press.

Michael Nagler

Michael Nagler is Professor emeritus of Classics and Comparative Literature at UC Berkeley, where he co-founded the Peace and Conflict Studies Program. His yearlong nonviolence course is available as a webcast through the Metta Center for nonviolence ( Prof. Nagler is the author of The Search for a Nonviolent Future, which received an American Book Award in 2002, and he received the Bajaj International Award for Promoting Gandhian Values Outside India in 2007.  

Kiran Bir Sethi

Kiran Bir Sethi is the Founder/ Director of The Riverside School in Ahmedabad, India, where she developed curriculum which has been adopted by schools throughout India. Sethi also founded aProCh (a protagonist in every child), an initiative to create child-friendly cities ( She has been a columnist for the Times of India (India’s largest circulating English broadsheet) and the online Indian Express, where she has written on education, children, design and learning

Tavis Smiley

Tavis Smiley started hosting the late-night TV talk show Tavis Smiley on PBS in 2003, and the daily public radio show The Tavis Smiley Show on PRI in 2005. (His website calls him "The first American ever to simultaneously host signature talk shows on both public television and public radio.") Smiley graduated from Indiana University in 1986 and then became an aide to Tom Bradley, the first African-American mayor of Los Angeles. In 1991 Smiley began doing regular commentary for a local radio station, which led to regular appearances with national radio host Tom Joyner. From 1996-2001, Smiley hosted BET Tonight on the Black Entertainment Network. Smiley is known for his energetic frank talk about race and politics; an African-American himself, he often interviews other black leaders and thinkers on his shows. He's also the author of books including How to Make Black America Better: Leading African Americans Speak Out (2001) and the 2006 memoir What I Know for Sure: My Story of Growing Up in America. His company, The Smiley Group, manages his various efforts in broadcasting, exhibits, websites, films, and speeches.

In 2010, Smiley leaves his studio chair in Los Angeles to go on the road to examine some of the country’s most defining moments in four hour-long TAVIS SMILEY REPORTS primetime TV specials. The reports include going behind the scenes with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, examining one of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s greatest speeches, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence,” and traveling to the streets of New Orleans to mark Hurricane Katrina’s 5th anniversary.

Clayborne Carson

Dr. Clayborne Carson has devoted his professional life to the study of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the movements King inspired. Since receiving his doctorate from UCLA in 1975, Dr. Carson has taught at Stanford University, where he is now professor of history and founding director of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute. Until the end of 2009, he also served as Martin Luther King, Jr. Distinguished Professor at Morehouse College in Atlanta and as Executive Director of that institution's Morehouse King Collection. Dr. Carson has been a visiting professor or visiting fellow at American University, the University of California, Berkeley, Emory University, Harvard University, and the Center for the Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford. For more on Professor Carson, click here.

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